This blog was written largely in response to a poll that I saw from 2019: Birth Control Still Tops List of Morally Acceptable Issues (gallup.com)
The multiplying purpose of sex is, by far, the most polarizing of the four purposes of sex (pleasure, love, unity, multiplying). After all, just look at the hot topics that surround the multiplying purpose of sex: birth control, abortion, gay marriage, adoption, surrogacy, artificial insemination/In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), tubal ligation, and vasectomies.
Although there are many ways that the other three purposes of sex are use improperly, the multiplying one seems to be more unique. It is generally agreed upon that 1) sex should be pleasurable (both physically and emotionally) for both people involved, 2) sex should be done in a way that is loving toward one another, 3) it does not feel good to be cheated on.
However, many couples are more than willing to interfere with one of the most obvious purposes and results of sexual intercourse: conception. Contraceptives have been around for thousands of years (can be traced back to the earliest Egyptian civilizations), and they are meant to do one thing: to prevent the body from doing what it is obviously-naturally designed to do.
Why is it that people can generally agree that sexual abuse and infidelity is wrong, yet are so readily to accept that it is okay for a man and woman to prevent becoming parents, all the while enjoying the other 3 purposes of sex?
People often think that one of the best solutions to overpopulation and unwanted pregnancies is to increase the use of contraceptives, but what this has led to is a lack of understanding of the multiplying purpose of sex and the increase of sexual activity and younger and younger ages.
Many schools in America are simply handing out condoms to their students without teaching any kind of moral stance on sexuality. Due to the growing influence of the LGBTQ community, public schools are choosing not to teach any sort of moral standard on sex, and instead are simply stating the various risks of sexual behaviors (STD’s, abusive relationships, unwanted pregnancies, etc). This means that abstinence is not even a value taught in the public school system, all the while teenagers will always be taught where the nearest abortion clinic is.
The multiplying purpose of sex is not just neglected in the education of young people, but it is also the most neglected purpose of sex in marriages.
When people hear about my view of abstinence in marriage, they will almost immediately rebuttal with a comment like, “So everyone is supposed to continue having children their whole marriages?”
My response is rather simple, not easy, but simple. I believe that there are many other forms of intimacy that are often overlooked due to the idolatry of sex in most marriages. Jesus defined adultery as a sin that occurs first in the heart (as all sins are), and a person is guilty of it as soon as they have a lustful thought for someone who is not their spouse (Matthew 5:27-30). I believe that this definition of adultery also has good news for married people; that even the ability to look at our spouse with sexual lust is a form of intimacy that is unique to the marriage relationship.
Men are often generalized as “dogs” because of their tendency to not be faithful to their girlfriends and wives. They are told things like, “it’s okay to look, but don’t touch” in reference to their physical attraction to other women. This is harmful and sinful advice!
One of the greatest joys of being married to my wife, is that we get to enjoy all levels of physical intimacy! Our physical intimacy is not dependent upon a “quickie” when we are both exhausted from folding laundry, cleaning the kitchen, and waiting for the kids to fall asleep (for fear that they will spontaneously burst through the door). Yet, the intimacy of our marriage is able to be expanded to all forms of physical pleasure that we are only permitted to share with one another.
A lot of people view fidelity as a burden or “ball and chain”, because it is seen as limiting our sex life to one individual. However, this view fails to see God’s blessing in His intention for faithful relationships. Not only are faithful relationships supposed to be a reflection of His faithfulness to those who love Him, but a faithful husband and wife get to experience the safety and security with one another that keeps their physical intimacy a sacred part of their relationship.
I love the fact that I get to look at my wife with lustful eyes whenever I want, and I love that I can recall lustful memories I have of her when I am not physically in the same room as her.
Earlier I mentioned that this response is easy, but not simple. What I mean by that is when I initially share with other husbands that my wife and I have mutually agreed that we are done having children, therefore, we are also choosing to abstain from sexual intercourse, they automatically assume that my life must be miserable, because there is no sex!
When I came under the strong conviction that pregnancy/conception is one of God’s purposes of sex, and not a “consequence”, it made our decision rather easy. God beautifully designed the male and female bodies to still be able to experience an immense amount of physical and emotional pleasure without sexual intercourse, and my wife and I are able to explore that without having to compromise God’s multiplying purpose of sex.
We feel that we are honoring God by choosing not to have sex (so as long as we feel we are done having children), because we feel that God designed sex for all four of its purposes to be used together in a way that properly reflects His image. God has beautifully designed a structure of accountability, that when the four purposes of sex are used together properly, not only does it accurately reflect His image, but it also prevents sex from being used selfishly or harmfully.
When pregnancy/conception is viewed as a consequence that can be avoided through the use of contraceptives, the result is similar to the use of helmets in American football. Since its introduction, the use of helmets has only increased the dangers of playing football. By removing the fear of a player leading with their head in tackling another person, the helmet is used more as a weapon! The use of helmets and pads has resulted in a faster, harder-hitting, and more reckless style of football; all for our entertainment.
We have seen the same trend happen with the increase and improvements in the effectiveness of contraceptives. By seemingly removing the chance of pregnancy/conception, it has only encouraged a more reckless and thoughtless use of sex between consenting individuals. Sure, contraceptives allow people to have more sex without worrying about getting pregnant, but like American football, it came at a cost. That cost being the diminishment of the miracle of conception and beginning of human life; all for our own entertainment.
For a full description on the 4 purposes of sex, buy PLUM: A Theology of Sex.